WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israel’s new foreign minister urged the world on Wednesday to isolate a Hamas-led government in the Palestinian territories, saying the militant group would turn them into a "terror state." In her first visit to the United States as foreign minister, Tzipi Livni said it was essential that the international community send a clear message to Hamas.
"We depend on the international community’s unified message to the Palestinians," she said at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She reiterated Israel’s insistence that Hamas renounce violence, disarm militants and recognize Israel’s right to exist — all conditions that United States, the European Union and others have demanded too. "When an entity, a state is being led by terrorists, the meaning is that this entity, this authority, this state is going to transfer into a terror state," said Livni. A "terror state" would have to face sanctions and other measures from the international community, she added.
Hamas, which is responsible for dozens of suicide attacks against Israelis, has rejected demands that it recognize Israel, , which it says is the aggressor.
Livni’s call for a unified message to Hamas came after Jordan’s King Abdullah told her in Washington on Tuesday that Israel should wait and see what policies Hamas adopted in government before rejecting it.
FUNDS TO BE BLOCKED? — Israel has decided to release to the Palestinians tax revenues it froze after Hamas’s election victory. But Livni said her government had the legal right to withhold transfer of these funds to Hamas when it forms a new government. "It is totally forbidden under the Israeli law to transfer money that can be used for terrorism," she said. "So I believe that, not only legally but even morally, this is something that Israel will have to rethink in the future
The United States has made clear it will not deal with a Hamas-led government and has warned it will halt direct aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas does not change. The State Department has begun a review of all U.S. aid to the Palestinians and is trying to work out how humanitarian help can continue without giving any assistance to Hamas.
Rice reiterated U.S. support for the caretaker government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but stressed that international aid could not flow to Hamas unless it recognizes Israel’s right to exist. "It cannot be that you have a government that does not accept even its right to exist that then says it wants the international community’s support for its programs," she said. Hamas has said any threats to block aid to the Palestinian Authority once it takes power, amount to blackmail. Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, in Egypt for talks on forming a government, said he expected Arab funding for the Palestinians’ new government to be arranged "in the coming days."